The gaffe that wasn't

When political missteps should and shouldn't be ignored

Obama chuckles.
(Image credit: Getty Images/Pool)

I've long been of two minds about press coverage of political gaffes. On the one hand, focusing on what Ron Brownstein calls "snowflake stories" — which tend to disappear as quickly as they appeared — deprives our audience of meatier, more relevant stories. On the other, unscripted moments, even trivial ones, often offer a good window into the soul of a candidate or politician.

"Long-term," says Vox's Matthew Yglesias, "the problem here isn't just news consumers find themselves listening to bullshit gaffe stories. It's that politicians learn the same lessons over and over again: unscripted moments are dangerous and generally to be avoided. Don't give interviews and don't stray from talking points."

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